Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia demands Egypt ICC referral

The Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia expresses its utmost shock and grief on the ongoing massacre in Egypt, perpetuated on peaceful demonstrators from among civilians, who call for the restoration of a democratically elected government and fight against injustice. We find such killings and brutality against civilians inhumane and disgraceful indeed.

We note that Egypt is not a party to the Rome Statute 1998 that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet there is a way we can hold Egypt accountable to this court. The world system through the United Nations, which causes Muslims much grief over many issues of human rights, especially those of freedom of religion and SOGI, nevertheless, has a channel for dealing with our problems in Egypt. That channel is that the UN’s Security Council (SC) may refer a situation to the ICC, to adjudicate grave international crimes for which there would otherwise be no justice. We therefore strongly urge the government of Malaysia to galvanize an OIC-led initiative to urgently refer the crimes against humanity in Egypt now taking place, to the ICC through the SC.

We wish to draw attention to Article 13(b) of the Rome statute, which allows for the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction where international crimes seem to have been committed in a situation that has been referred to it by the UN SC. An immediate referral would be unbiased and give the ICC jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed by so-called government leaders and representatives as well as their opposition. It would strip all sides of their sense of impunity and send an obvious warning those acts of torture and killings could land them in a prison cell in The Hague.

The clearest precedent yet for such a referral is in the case of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, who was indicted at the ICC after his case was referred by the SC. In regards to the case of Libya in 2011, the SC had also acted swiftly in referring the perpetrators to the ICC even though it has failed to act on other key occasions where there was credible evidence of widespread and serious international crimes and limited prospect of local accountability, such as during the deadly conflict in Myanmar, South Thailand and Sri Lanka. These failures should not discourage Muslims to continue to push for meaningful changes in the system.

Those responsible for the continuing refusal for accountability in Egypt must also be referred, and be brought to justice. Only in this way can Muslims seem to be taking responsibility for their criminal aberrations, which are typical of mid-adolescent development behaviour, and approaching them in a mature and adult fashion.

The reputation of Muslims, although people of good will, has been severely tarnished by the tiny percentage who perpetrates terror upon their own people, and this reputation of the good people of Islam must be protected at all costs.

26 August 2013

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